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EU eases food imports from China after significant improvements in veterinary standards

European Commission - IP/04/943   16/07/2004

Other available languages: FR DE

IP/04/943

Brussels, 16 July 2004

EU eases food imports from China after significant improvements in veterinary standards

The Member States meeting in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health agreed on a European Commission proposal to authorise the import from China into the EU of shrimps, farmed fish, honey, royal jelly, rabbit meat and a number of other products of animal origin. Exporters will have their products checked by the Chinese food safety authorities and each consignment will be certified as meeting the relevant EU food safety standards. In January 2002 imports of all products of animal origin from China were stopped because the EU considered China’s system to control residues of veterinary medicines in farmed animals to be too lax. China has since then made considerable progress in tightening its food and feed safety controls. The 2002 ban was partially relaxed last year with positive results and the Commission is confident that, provided proper controls continue, imports of these other animal based products from China can now safely be allowed. Nonetheless, the Commission still has concerns about the safety of chicken and other poultry meat from China - particularly given the recent re-emergence of avian influenza in East Asia. The EU’s ban on the import of poultry products from China will therefore remain in place.

In January 2002 the Commission suspended the imports of products of animal origin from China for food safety reasons, particularly because of the presence of residues of veterinary medicines in food and animal feed from China (see IP/02/143). Since then, information provided by the Chinese authorities and the favourable results of the checks carried out by Member States have already allowed the Commission to relax the restrictions for a range of products (surimi, casings, sea-caught fish, crayfish - see IP/02/1898).

The experience with the lifting of restrictions to date has been positive. The decision approved today will lift the remaining restrictions (with the exception of poultry-meat) following progress made by the Chinese authorities in tightening their food and feed safety controls.

China has put in place a range of corrective measures which were verified by inspectors from the EU’s Food and Veterinary Office in September 2003. The Chinese authorities submitted an action plan in response to the recommendations made by the inspectors to correct the remaining deficiencies and this is now being implemented. This coupled with various undertakings given by China on control measures and on the monitoring of residues mean the Commission is now satisfied it can safely ease import restrictions.

The Chinese have undertaken to test all consignments at export and to issue a sanitary certificate only for those consignments found to be in conformity with EU requirements.

The EU’s ban on the import of chicken and other poultry products from China remains in place. The Commission still has concerns about the safety of these products - particularly given the recent re-emergence of avian influenza in East Asia.

The import of pork, beef and dairy products from China has never been authorised because of various animal diseases prevalent in China, such as foot and mouth disease.

The proposal will now be formally adopted by the Commission in the next weeks and enters into force 3 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.


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